calling out into the void

We were hoping that this weekend would be dedicated to discussing the letter below, a kind of call to arms for democratic discourse and commitment to building a new left of common causes. Alas, even after begging a few political lists to speak up, responses were few and far between. There is, of course, a whole host of reasons that this could be the case: people don’t want to read six paragraph letters, people generally agree and have nothing to add, people generally disagree and feel it’s pointless to discuss, etc. etc. I’m willing to accept any and all of these explanations, but I would really like to try to figure out which is true.

One reader wrote… (more in expanded post)

…that the audience is the problem:

Golis, the reason no one is commenting on this is because they haven’t thought that much about New Media and they don’t know that much about the history of the American left. I know you like studying the new left in the sixties, the New Deal coalition and early progressivism, most political people don’t. They like playing paintball.

Another reader wrote that the effort itself was the problem:

Basically, it’s unrealistic to expect that by calling for dialogue you are suddenly going to have an explosion of people rising up and saying brilliant things or suddenly networking. Calling for dialogue is kind of vapid, almost as vapid as the bit about the coalition of infinite causes at the end… which btw is a lot of the reason that the Dems keep losing.

Which is true? Both?

Obviously, there’s something self-indulgent in trying to make an accounting at one’s own failed attempt to gain attention and start a conversation. But it also seems to me important to try to understand why exactly no conversation occurred, even if that means pondering our own inadequacies here at CC. Share your thoughts!

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9 responses to “calling out into the void

  1. one word: apathy.

  2. No, it’s not apathy. Look at Katie’s post below — if people were truly apathetic about issues facing the “New Left,” how could that one post generate 27 comments so far? I think people aren’t responding because there’s not much to say in response. Yes, New Media is important in today’s political discourse. Yes, CC is a good counterpart to Crimson editorials. And yes, it can potentially unite the Left by looking at issues so multidimensionally. It’s not unexpected for people to say brilliant things on this blog, as it’s been done many times before, but it’s usually been in response to a better-defined question.

    That said, I’m generally a fan of this site, and I’m looking forward to the revamp, whenever that’s happening.

  3. "slugger" slugger

    I also agree that it’s not apathy. That is such an easy excuse that people toss around, but I don’t think it’s documented in this case.

    Rather, I have take issue with the format of the board. Basically, there are four editors who post things, and the rest of us comment on them. It seems a bit like we’re their disciples or something – they proclaim and we debate.

    This is particularly frustrating in the case of some in particular, like this “Jersey Slugger” guy who tends to throw out controversial accusations and radical links without ever really taking the time to substantiate or source his information (and no, linking to propoganda does not count).

    In general i find this points to a facade of open discussion, but like much of the liberal world – there is really far less tolerance for a range of ideas than they let on. there are some party lines that people ought to subscribe to — we can debate HOW we arrive there and some of the points along the way, but ultimately, we all seem to have to get to the same conclusions.

  4. Congratulations on being a great blog!

    I wasn’t really sure how to let you bloggers at Cambridge Common know other than to comment, but your blog has been chosen as a Top 10 Source on Harvard (http://harvard.toptensources.com/TopTenSources/Default.aspx).

    If you’d like to receive a .gif to add to the Cambridge Common site, please email mac at toptensources.com.

    Keep up the good work,
    Mac

  5. If you’re going to criticize me at least be original with your name, “slugger”.

    Although “propaganda” has a negative connotation, what I spew is propoganda under this definition from Dictionary.Com: Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause. So is everything every politician, professor, economist, or individual spews as well, however. Disagree or not. It’s my truth.

    If you feel as though your voice is not represented adequately then start your own blog and make sure you drop us a link in the comment section of one of our threads (especially our open ones). Spew your propaganda.

  6. Andrew:

    you are far too self-righteous. One of the reasons why your letter over the email list did not get a response was because it *seemed* like blatant self-promotion.

    Some will argue that it was, some will say it wasn’t.

    More importantly, your follow up email was ridiculous. I forget the exact phraseology, but I believe it was something to the effect of “I am SHOCKED…” that no one responded. Now, I would append to that sentence “…that you are not interested in the same topic as I am and did not respond to my email when I demanded that you do.”

    You need to be careful about deciding that everyone should align with your interests.

    – Anon

    PS – this view is not solely mine own.

  7. Hey Anon (and those who agree),

    Many apologies if I came off as arrogant or self-righteous. The “SHOCKED” was meant to be kind of tongue-in-cheek. And in the email, I noted that it was possible that people just think I’m an idiot so they ignore my emails, and that I guess that’s a fair opinion to have.

    Also, I wasn’t deciding that everyone should “align with my interests.” If anything the letter and my later effort to elicit feedback where intended to gain OTHER people’s opinions, their disagreements, etc.

    In terms of self-promotion, I’m a little unclear. The letter was encouraging other people to share their opinions and inviting people to come to Cambridge Common to do so. We specifically noted (because we think that this is important) that we were clearly not the only or most qualified people to share our opinions.

    I’m sorry if I came off differently than I intended. Our hope with the letter was to start a conversation and encourage people other than ourselves to say someting. Do you have any thoughts on the letter?

  8. No thoughts right now.

    What I meant by self-promotion was that you were just promoting your blog.

    Sorry if I was unclear.

    -Anon

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